Senior Bowl 2013: Unheralded Players Who Will Benefit Most

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistJanuary 24, 2013

Fresno State RB Robbie Rouse
Fresno State RB Robbie RouseOtto Kitsinger III/Getty Images

The Senior Bowl is a great equalizer, giving small-school prospects an opportunity to garner the attention and notoriety that could put them atop draft boards.

Despite the numerous ways in which fans and experts can watch almost any football game possible, there's simply no way every prospect can be properly evaluated.

There are plenty of players whose first time in front of many scouts' eyes is the Senior Bowl. As the result of solid performance, you could see a player jump up a couple of rounds.

Here are three players who could benefit in a major way from the attention they'll garner during the Senior Bowl.


Aaron Mellette, WR, Elon

Aaron Mellette's stats alone are enough to get him noticed in many NFL circles. He recorded 199 catches for 2,739 yards yards and 24 touchdowns over the course of 22 games in 2010 and 2011.

Going to such a small school, it's hard for Mellette to get noticed. In addition, his stats are a tad inflated considering he's faced far inferior competition to his FBS counterparts.

Without a doubt, though, Mellette has the tools to succeed in the NFL. He's tall, at 6'3", and his 9.5" hands are very good. He finds a way to catch anything thrown his way.

Mellette may not be a great athlete, though, so that could hurt his ceiling. However, with a crop of receivers that failed to blow teams away, Mellette could shoot up draft boards.


Jonathan Cyprien, SS, Florida International

Much like the other names on this list, Jonathan Cyprien's alma mater is not going to be helpful when the scouts look at him. The Florida International Golden Panthers call the Sun Belt Conference home, possibly the weakest conference in the country.

Cyprien has good size and the physicality necessary for the safety position. With no other strong safeties in this year's crop particularly breathtaking, the window is there for Cyprien.

Dane Brugler of CBS Sports lists Cyprien among the players rising up the draft board. He wrote:

In a talented safety group, Florida International's Jonathan Cyprien stood out on Monday with his aggressive playing style and active demeanor. He practiced at full speed and left it all out on the field, not shying away from getting physical. Whether it was a contact drill or not, Cyprien is going to meet the ballcarrier with a pop, refusing to let up. With Kenny Vaccaro (Texas) and D.J. Swearinger (South Carolina) deciding to skip Mobile, Cyprien has a chance to emerge as the top safety at this year's Senior Bowl.


Robbie Rouse, RB, Fresno State

Even with the game Eddie Lacy had in the BCS National Championship, few teams are regarding him as a can't-miss prospect. Running backs aren't regarded as they once were in the league. It's all about building the best air attack.

As a result, there are few RBs in the draft that have wowed scouts. Robbie Rouse of the Fresno State Bulldogs could be one of those players.

He's had a very productive career over his four years at the school. Rouse ran for 4,647 yards and 37 touchdowns. He also caught 110 passes with the Bulldogs

His size (5'7" 190) will always be a major hindrance and there's not much he could do about it. A short stature hasn't stopped Maurice Jones-Drew or Ray Rice, though.

Rouse's strength is very underrated. He could easily earn a place on a team as a niche, change-of-pace back who is key in certain situations.